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DIS Title Divider Administrative Staff Title Divider TN NAFTA Professionals
Administrative Staff
TN NAFTA Professionals

TN (Trade NAFTA – North American Free Trade Agreement)

TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in specific professions in accordance with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), including activities related to research in the sciences. TN status requires a sponsoring employer for a specific period of time. To obtain TN status, see guidance here:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) guidance
Department of State (DOS) guidance

Remember: DIS must first receive a request package from the NIH Institute/Center (IC) where you will work before we can assist with obtaining TN status.

NIH Designations

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Most FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) designations and most Non-FTE designations can be supported by TN status.

Duration

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TNs are eligible for an initial period of up to three (3) years with extensions available up to three (3) years at a time. At present, there is no limit on the number of extensions that can be requested. The TN status begins when the foreign national scientist acquires TN status within the United States.

Dependents

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Family members of TNs are eligible for TD (Trade Dependent) status. Family members are defined as your spouse and/or unmarried children under age 21. Dependents cannot be employed in the United States. Dependents may attend school in the United States on a full-time basis; such attendance is considered incidental to their purpose for being in the country, which is to accompany the TN.

International Travel

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The advice in this section is meant for NIH scientists currently in TN status. For TNs, international travel is often associated with an extension of TN status. If you plan to extend your TN status via international travel, DIS must first receive a case from your Institute/Center. If you have an open case with a DIS Immigration Specialist or a pending petition or application at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), contact your assigned Immigration Specialist before planning any international travel.

If your trip abroad is longer than five weeks for personal travel or two weeks for professional travel, you must receive approval for Extended Absence from NIH from DIS before your trip.

Upon entry, TNs should inspect the port of entry stamp and I-94 record to confirm that the end date or “admit until date” matches the end date of the employer letter most recently issued by DIS. If the end dates do not match, please e- mail DIS@mail.nih.gov as soon as possible.

Canadian TNs

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When you travel abroad, DIS recommends that you bring the following documents as evidence of your eligibility to re-enter the U.S. in TN status:


  • Valid passport
  • Valid I-94 record
    • If you cannot present a valid, unexpired Form I-94 for TN status, you must present alternative evidence such as a fee receipt for previous admission to U.S. as a TN or a previously issued TN admission stamp in passport
  • Additional evidence:
    • TN employment letter (from DIS)
    • Travel letter (from NIH sponsor/supervisor)
    • Credentials/licensure (e.g. diploma copy)
    • NIH identification badge

To enter the U.S. in TN status, you must be inspected and admitted by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. This applies even if you are eligible for Trusted Travelers Programs such as NEXUS or Global Entry.

Mexican TNs

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When you travel abroad, DIS recommends that you bring the following documents as evidence of your eligibility to re-enter the U.S. in TN status:


  • Valid passport
  • Valid TN visa
  • Valid I-94 record
    • If you cannot present your valid, unexpired Form I-94, you will need to present alternative evidence of a previous admission to U.S. in TN status such as a previously issued TN admission stamp in your passport
  • Additional evidence:
    • TN employment letter (from DIS)
    • Travel letter (from NIH sponsor/supervisor)
    • Credentials/licensure (e.g. diploma copy)
    • NIH identification badge

Renewals

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To extend a fellowship/assignment/appointment while in TN status, the NIH Institute/Center (IC) must send DIS a request package. After the request package is received, an Immigration Specialist contacts the foreign national to discuss extension options. DIS cannot begin the extension process until a request package is received from the IC.

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